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Car thieves jailed

WINTON – New information has been released concerning the arrests of three Virginia teens who were the subject of a manhunt here Dec. 31.

As first reported online (www.r-cnews.com) last Thursday, a trio of 17-year-olds were captured in Winton following a half-day search that began with the theft of a vehicle from a residence on Thomas Bridge Road near Cofield.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan said Javonta Jaquan Gray, Torino Lakea Nixon Jr. and Clarence Clark, all of Portsmouth, VA, are behind bars in the county jail awaiting their initial court appearance today (Tuesday).

Gray and Nixon were both captured in the area of the old aluminum plant. A few hours later, Clark was spotted as he attempted to escape on a raft on the Chowan River. He was quickly apprehended near Tuscarora Beach and was transported to Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie.

The teens, who were all armed with handguns at the time of their apprehension, were charged with one felony count each of kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of stolen property, conspiracy, and conspiracy robbery with a dangerous weapon. Each was jailed under a $500,000 secured bond.

There is the possibility of a fourth suspect, Vaughan said.

As initially reported, the teens apparently stole a 1998 Toyota in Virginia on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

“After interviewing the woman whose car was stolen on Thomas Bridge Road, we learned that she worked in Portsmouth, VA and was on the way home to Hertford County from her place of employment at which time she was under the impression she was being followed,” Vaughan said. “She said that every time she made a turn, the car following her turned in the same direction, all the way back from Portsmouth to Thomas Bridge Road.”

During her interview with HCSO Investigator Dexter Hayes, the victim said she purposely drove past her home on Thomas Bridge Road to a nearby residence of a friend.

“The vehicle occupied by the teens apparently ran off the road and into a ditch near the residence where the victim went,” Vaughan said. “After coming to a stop in her friend’s backyard, the woman said she was approached by a light skinned black male who was pointing a gun at her who stated he would kill her. That suspect reportedly placed the handgun on the victim’s head, placed his hand over her mouth and asked her who lived in the house.”

At that time, another suspect appeared, described by Vaughan as a dark skinned black male.

“The victim said the light skinned male told the dark skinned male to take the victim out into a nearby farm field; he held her there while the light skinned male went through the inside of her car,” the Sheriff reported.

A few minutes later, the two males stole the victim’s car, a 2011 Buick, and were seen headed towards Cofield. That vehicle was later spotted traveling on King Street. By the time a Hertford County deputy was able to turn around and pursue the Buick, it had wrecked into a ravine behind the Winton Town Hall. A check of the vehicle revealed no driver or passengers, thus prompting a manhunt that involved HCSO personnel, officers with the Ahoskie and Murfreesboro Police Departments, Gates County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Highway Patrol, Hertford County Emergency Management, NC Wildlife Commission, Winton Fire Department, North Carolina Dept. of Community Corrections, ALE, Hertford County Emergency Services, and bloodhounds from the North Carolina Division of Prisons.

“We really appreciate all the assistance we received from the other agencies,” Vaughan said. “There was a steady rain falling, but no one complained about the weather; they were all focused on finding these individuals before they had a chance to threaten or hurt someone else.”

Vaughan added that the victim was asked if she knew any of the teens arrested, to which she answered, “no.”

“She did say that the vehicle the teens were originally in (the Toyota) looked like the one she saw when she stopped at a store adjacent to her place of employment in Portsmouth before she began to drive home to Hertford County,” the Sheriff stated.

As far as to the identity of the fourth suspect, Vaughan said that information was developed after interviewing one of the teens following his arrest.

“We believe the fourth suspect was the light skinned black male the victim told us about,” he said. “The three young men we arrested were all of dark complexion. We were told that the light skinned suspect goes by the name of Ike. We contacted the Portsmouth Police to see if they had any information on a person by that name, but we have yet to hear anything back from them.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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